While Sleeper & Snake pairs up the great Al Montfort (Total Control, The UV Race, Dick Diver) and Amy Hill (Primo!, Constant Mongrel), who’ve both found themselves in league as band mates in Terry, this album isn’t quite the pop pairing that it seems on the surface. Accompanying the strums, jangles, and geniality there’s also present offbeat electronics and free jazz fizz. Homespun vignettes of warbled keyboards, fizzed improv interludes, shifting layers of skewed harmony and wistful yet pointed lyrical pep is their measure. The duo still locks into a mordant lo-fi mode but there’s a delicacy at play here too with cello, harmonica, and even sarangi being employed in the foundation of these frothy concoctions of outsider folk and post punk hodgepodge. Following on from 2019’s Junction And High debut, new album Fresco Shed unfurls with the same floating free atmosphere. The record launches with an uncanny field recording before being drawn onward by the coalescing alto and tenor saxophones of “Miracles”. “Flats Falling” is a crystalline assembly of cello, drum machine and plucky bass which freewheels around, curlicues of sax sparking off amid the duo’s matter-of fact vocal parade. Comparably buoyant, “Shoot Through” also conceals inner depths in wraiths of wild melody and memory. “Rokeby” is more of a serenade into the wind, showcasing the duo’s love of alliterative wordplay. “Reach Out” strolls down a similar path, only pursued by bursts of Wurlitzer. Hill and Montfort’s vocals are mirrored in unity but still retain their ability to wrong-foot expectation. For instance, “Lock Up The Loose” is reminiscent of a cosmic, country ballad, only written for a children’s party. The song’s jejune delivery belying lyrical concerns around the notion of incarceration. “Fresco Shed” takes its title from a line in tremulous, keyboard ponderance “Lady Painter”. An acoustic guitar and cello mark the decentred rhythm here, in contrast to the clustering synth-lines and sax breezes that tangle throughout “Piles”. An interplay of saxophones alone builds “New Togs” heady ambience, with multiple horns weaving through each other’s reverb trail, this is dauntless, spry music, no resting on laurels allowed. “Declare” closes the album with a whirl of melodies that stretch to their limits before vanishing into thin air. Fresco Shed is transportive, ludic, humane and homemade, ruminative and resourceful. A total triumph of substance over style from an endlessly creative duo.